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Great Image Of President Obama Trampling The Constitution—Bill Clinton And FDR Are Glad To See It Happen

I really enjoy this image I found on Facebook of Barack Obama trampling on what appears to be a torn-up copy of the Constitution.

There is also money strewn about. I guess that is to indicate Mr. Obama’s carelessness with tax dollars.

Around Mr. Obama are all the Presidents who served before 2009.

The Founding Father Presidents are beside themselves at Mr. Obama’s actions.

They miss the days when the Constitution protected slavery.

Abe Lincoln is mad.

I wonder what Mr. Lincoln would think today about all the states rights appeals we are hearing for the right.

Andy Jackson is engaging in angry finger-pointing.

Ronald Reagan looks a bit confused.

That part at least is true to life.

And Joe Whiteman is despondent and alone on the bench —and no doubt unemployed— as Mr. Obama stomps on our liberties and tosses cash around like it is worthless.

Applauding Mr. Obama’s terrible actions are Bill Clinton, Franklin Roosevelt and what looks to be Teddy Roosevelt.

These folks want to take us back not just before the Great Society and the New Deal, they want to take us back all the way even before the Progresssive Era of Teddy Roosevelt.

That way we can have dead rats in our meat again as Upton Sinclair detailed in The Jungle. 

I think Lyndon Johnson is smiling as well.

Richard Nixon does not seem very glad about this disregard of our Constitution. You’d think Mr. Nixon would be cheering right along.

This illustration made my day.

A great way to learn about the Presidents is from the Miller Center  at the U. of Virginia. 

The National Archives has great web resources to learn about our Constitution.

Many conservatives sure do get into a tizzy over Barack Obama.

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July 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Conservative Leader William Rusher Dies—Let’s Learn From Someone Who Sometimes Got The Better Of Us

Conservative political leader William Rusher has died at the age of 87.

Mr. Rusher was a columnist and activist who played a prominent part in the gains of  American conservatism over the past 50 years. Mr. Rusher played a leading role for many years for the important  conservative magazine The National Review.

Portions of Mr. Rusher’s obituary from the New York Times are worth considering.

From the Times–

“Mr. Rusher championed postwar conservatism as a mainstream political movement that first tasted national success in the Republican presidential nomination of Barry M. Goldwater in 1964, and fulfilled its dream with the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980.”

Mr. Rusher was a vocal conservative who trumpeted his cause when his views were not widely held. He stuck with his beliefs and realized great victories.

“He and two colleagues founded the draft-Goldwater movement in 1961. With other prominent conservatives, he opposed the re-election of Richard M. Nixon in 1972 because of the president’s overtures to China. He started a third party that faltered in 1976, and was an adviser in Reagan’s presidential campaign four years later.”

Mr. Rusher was willing to go against his party for his beliefs. You have to be willing to chart your own course.

“… in 1975, Mr. Rusher explained how (a third-party) might work. “The only practical solution, therefore, is for conservative Republicans (broadly represented by Reagan) and conservative Democrats (most of whom have in the past supported Wallace)” — a reference to Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama — “to join forces in a new majority party, designed to win both the Presidency and Congress and replace the G.O.P. in toto as one of America’s two major parties.”  In 1976, putting his ideas into practice, Mr. Rusher and several colleagues founded the New Majority Party. But it collapsed that summer at a convention in Chicago after a rival group pushed through the presidential nomination of Lester G. Maddox, the former governor of Georgia and an avowed segregationist.” 

Mr. Rusher was right that there more conservatives than people realized. And he thought big. The emergence of the Tea Party has not replaced the Republican Party, but it has, for the moment at least, changed how Republicans operate. Mr. Rusher saw that one of the two major parties could be challenged.  Of course, as we are dealing with the American right, the nomination of Lester Maddox in 1976 is a perfectly apt cautionary tale right up the current day.

“…He ended his syndicated column in 2009. “Undoubtedly,” he wrote in a farewell, “the most important single factor in the growth of conservatism has been the realization, on the part of individual conservatives, that their views were shared by others, and constituted collectively a formidable national influence.”

This is just so important. Winning elections and swaying the political debate can hinge on committed everyday people thinking things out and taking action. This was one way, along with the support of billionaires, that the Tea Party made an impact in 2010. It was a sense that things could different that helped Barack Obama win in 2008. In my view, there is no ideological majority in the United States. There are many factors that impact elections. But one of the most important things, and one thing every person can control, is what effort individuals make for their beliefs.

Here is the National Review on Mr. Rusher.

There can be no doubt that conservatives and the far-right have won many battles in the half-century since the early 1960’s. Just as liberals and progressives have won many battles. There are many battles ahead and we all have the ability to take part and move forward. Let’s take to heart the lessons of a man who sometimes got the better of us.

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Elena Kagan To Be Nominated To Supreme Court—History Of Court More Interesting Than Tedious Confirmation Process

President Obama has named Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be his Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

(Above—Although nominated by Richard Nixon in 1970, Harry Blackmun turned out to be a good liberal on the Court. Justice Blackmun served 1970- 1994.)

Here is a CNN profile of Ms. Kagan. The CNN story is text rather than a video.

Is Ms. Kagan a liberal? Her record suggests she might be a liberal on some social issues. Ms. Kagan is opposed to the  “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that discriminates against gay folks who want to join the military.

Is she a liberal on economic issues that might come before the court? Nobody knows. And since you can hardly get even a Democrat anymore to take aggressively liberal stands on economic questions, I bet we won’t hear much from Ms. Kagan on questions of the regulation of business and the rights of workers.

Some of my friends on the left have expressed concerned that Ms. Kagan is not so liberal.

Let us hope that Ms. Kagan proves to be a person who has empathy for the needs of working people, and who is someone who truly advocates from the bench for the little person in society.

In any case, Supreme Court confirmation battles are tedium defined.

Ms. Kagan will go around and meet Senators at their offices. There will be some hearings. Ms. Kagan will give evasive replies to stupid questions. There will be a long-winded debate on the floor of the Senate.

On the other hand, the history of the Supreme Court is interesting and will teach you something. Below are some links to learn about the history of the Supreme Court and the people who have served on the Court.

Instead of wasting your time with hearings that are likely to make you sleepy, read and learn about the living history of our nation.

All people are capable of understanding interesting and complex things. People just have to decide if they will take the time and make the effort to learn these things.

Here are the links:

The Supreme Court Historical Society has good information on the history of the court and offers many facts.

Here are some important cases in Supreme Court history.

Here’s a list of all 111 Supreme Court Justices to date.

The Oxford Companion To The Supreme Court is a useful reference. This book has brief but useful biographies of each Justice who has served on the court, and has accounts of many cases that have been decided over the years.

Here’s the Supreme Court web home.

Here’s a review of A People’s History of the Supreme Court by Peter Irons.

Here’s a review of The U.S. Supreme Court–The Pursuit of Justice edited by Christopher Tomlins.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spitzer/Paterson Worst Political Ticket Since Nixon/Agnew

Above you see, in better days, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer–on the right— with his 2006 running mate as Lieutenant Governor David Paterson.

Mr. Spitzer had to resign because he was visiting prostitutes.

His successor as Governor, Mr. Paterson, may now have to resign because he may have pressured a woman to drop a complaint in a domestic abuse case involving one of his aides.

The team of Spitzer and Paterson was the worst political ticket since the criminals  Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

March 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Specter Switch—Republicans Unable To Get A Hold On Senate Since 1929 Crash

File:MLKjr and Specter.jpg

The switch of Arlen Specter from Republican to Democrat leaves Republicans with just 40 Senators in the 100 seat Senate. After Al Franken is seated in Minnesota there will be 58 Democrats and 2 independents who mostly vote with the Democrats in the Senate.  

( Above–Arlen Specter with Martin Luther King. Please click here for the best Martin Luther King reading list on the web.)

This weak Republican presence in the Senate is not out of line with Republican membership in the Senate since the 1929 stock crash. Beginning with the 1930 election, the first after the crash, Democrats have reached 60 or more seats in the Senate 11 times. Mr. Franken’s seating will make that 12 times.

The peak of Democratic control was the 76 seats won in the 1936 election.

(Below–Charles McNary of Oregon was leader of the very small Republican Senate minority after the 1936 election.)

File:Charles mcnary.jpg

The Republican high since 1930 is just 55 seats. This mark was reached in the elections of 1996, 1998 and 2004. The last time Republicans were as strong in the Senate as are Democrats today was after the election of 1920 when they had 59 seats. The Senate at that time had only 96 seats as Alaska and Hawaii were not yet part of the union.

Democrats have won more than 55 seats in the Senate 20 times since 1929 in contrast to the inability of Republicans to win as many of 56 seats since that year.

( Here  is the link to the web home of the U.S. Senate. There is a lot of information to be found at the Senate site. Here is a link to the divisions by party going back to the beginning of the Senate in 1789.)   

The last time Republicans reached 60 seats was the election of 1908. Republicans won 60 seats that year in what was a 92 seat Senate.

Democrats have had two main periods of dominance in the Senate since was 1929.  In the years between and including the first election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, and his final election in 1944, Democrats never fell below 57 seats.

( Below—Republican Robert Taft of Ohio was Senate Majority Leader at the time of  his death in 1953.

File:Robert a taft.jpg

In 1958 Democrats won 65 seats and in 1978 they took 58. In between those years, they never went lower than 54 and seven times eclipsed 60.  

(Below–Mike Mansfield of Montana was Majority Leader of the Senate 1961-1977. That is the longest tenure in that position.) 

File:Mike mansfield.jpg

Republicans have only had two stretches since 1929 where they’ve won control of the Senate in consecutive elections. 

In the Reagan years, Republicans ran the Senate after the 1980, 1982 and 1984 elections. After the Republican Congressional landslide of 1994, Republicans won at least 50 seats each election up to and including 2004.  Though after the 2000 election Republican control was ended when Jim Jeffords of Vermont switched to the Democrats giving Democrats a 51-49 edge.

( Below–Howard Baker of Tennessee served as both Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the Senate.)

File:Howard baker jr.jpg

A qualification to all this could be that many Democrats in the years of Democratic control since 1929 were Southern Democrats who often voted with Republicans. True control of the Senate often eluded the more progressive elements of the Democratic Party.

There is truth to that qualification. But it must be said that the New Deal and Great Society programs that conservatives would like to undo were passed in these years. Civil Rights legislation also passed in these years though it took a long time and required the principled support of some Republicans in the Senate.

Today’s strong Democratic majority has moderate members, but nothing like the segregationists of the past. 

For 40 years, since the Sunbelt driven election of Richard Nixon in 1968, we’ve been hearing about the supposed realignment of American politics towards Republicans. Well–Where is it?

( Please click here to read about the Senate’s art collection.) 

Today’s Democratic majorities and the states that Barack Obama won come from all around the nation. In the South, Mr. Obama won North Carolina, Virgina and Florida. Senator Specter’s switch only adds to the 80 years and counting slump of the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate.

( Coming soon -A look at membership of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1929. The story is much the same as it has been in the Senate.)

(Below—Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia has seen a lot of Senate history since he entered the Senate in 1959.  He is the longest serving Senator ever.) 

File:Robert Byrd Majority Portrait.jpg

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Art, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thanksgiving Blogging Break

It’s time for a Thanksgiving blogging break. For the next week or so, I’ll have some new posts and some “encore” posts to share with you the blog reading public. Maybe one day this week I’ll not post at all.

Above is Gerald Ford extending a pardon to a turkey just like he extended one to Richard Nixon.

Thanks for reading Texas Liberal.  Please keep in touch and have a good Thanksgiving.

November 22, 2008 Posted by | Blogging | , , | 3 Comments

Blog Readers Demand To Know—How Has Texas Voted In Recent Presidential Elections?

A kind Texas Liberal reader by the name of Kathleen has e-mailed me asking the results of recent Presidential elections in Texas.

You will see that Texas has voted Democratic for President just once since Lyndon Johnson of Texas left the White House. Regretfully, 2008 seems likely to continue that pattern.  

Here is how Texas has voted for President since 1948.

1948

Truman (D) 65.4%

Dewey (R) 24.6%

Thurmond (Dixiecrat) 9.3%

(Below—Harry Truman)

Truman pass-the-buck.jpg

1952    

Eisenhower (R) 53.1%

Stevenson (D) 46.7%

1956

Eisenhower (R) 55.3%

Stevenson (D) 44.0%

1960

Kennedy (D) 50.5%

Nixon (R) 48.5%

(Below–Richard Nixon in World War II.)

1964

Johnson (D) 63.3%

Goldwater (R) 36.5%

1968

Humphrey (D) 41.1%

Nixon (R) 39.9%

Wallace (I) 19.0%

1972

Nixon (R) 66.2%

McGovern (D) 33.3%

(Below—George McGovern)

George McGovern bioguide.jpg

1976

Carter (D) 51.1%

Ford (R) 48.0%

1980

Reagan (R) 55.3%

Carter (D) 41.4%

Anderson (I) 2.5% 

1984

Reagan (R) 63.6%

Mondale (D) 36.1%

1988

Bush (R) 56.0%

Dukakis (D) 43.3%

1992

Bush (R) 40.6%

Clinton (D) 37.1%

Perot (Reform) 22.0%

(Below–Clinton, Bush and Perot in 1992.)

Debates.jpg

1996

Dole (R) 48.8%

Clinton (D) 43.8%

Perot (Reform) 6.7%

2000

Bush (R) 59.3%

Gore (D) 38.0%

Nader (G) 2.2%

2004

Bush (R) 61.1%

Kerry 38.2 %

(Below–George W. Bush)

 

Thanks to Kathleen for the question.

I have many reference sources on politics and would be happy to reply to any question on American political history that you the blog reader might have. Just leave a question in the comment space.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.

( Please click here for one of the most popular posts ever on Texas Liberal—Blog Readers Demand To Know What Is Done With Shamu’s Body After He Dies.)

October 29, 2008 Posted by | Political History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Third Party Candidates Who Carried A State In A Presidential Election

The following are third party candidates for President who have carried a state in a Presidential Election since after the Civil War.   

This is part of the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day series.

1892—Populist candidate James Weaver of Iowa ( photo above) won Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada and North Dakota. Mr. Weaver won 8.5% of the entire vote. Democrat Grover Cleveland of New York won the election. 

1912—Bull Moose Theodore Roosevelt of New York carried California, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington. Mr. Roosevelt was also the last third party candidate to finish ahead of a major party nominee. Incumbent President and Republican nominee William Howard Taft of Ohio finished third in 1912. Democrat Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey won the election. In 1912, Mr. Wilson won 42%, Mr. Roosevelt 27%, Mr. Taft 23 % and Socialist Eugene V. Debs of Indiana took 6%.

1924—Progressive Robert La Follette,Sr ( photo below) won his home state of Wisconsin. Mr. La Follette won 17% of the full national vote. Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts won the election.

1948—Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond of South Carolina carried Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Mr. Thurmond won 2.4% overall. He was not on most ballots outside the South. Harry Truman of Missouri won the election.

1968—George Wallace of Alabama won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Mr. Wallace won 13% of the nationwide total. Richard Nixon of California won the election.

Winning a state in a Presidential election is hard to accomplish. Ross Perot was unable to do so in 1992 even while winning 19% of the vote. Third party candidates must have some of concentrated regional appeal, as did Mr. Weaver, Mr. Thurmond and Mr. Wallace. Or maybe they just have to be Theodore Roosevelt.

( I’d suggest Texas Liberal readers check out the links to Weaver, Debs and La Follette. They were progressive and interesting figures.)

No third party seems likely to win a state in 2008.

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Should Senator Obama Contest Texas Or Is It A Dry Well?

Should Barack Obama contest Texas?

Senator Obama should strongly contest Texas only if he has a real chance to win Texas.

It takes a lot of money to mount even the appearance of an effort in a big place like Texas.

In 2004, George W. Bush won 61.1% of the Texas vote.

While Mr. Bush was a home state candidate, this number is consistent with Republican statewide majorities in Texas in recent years.

The last time a 60% or higher state flipped parties in one election cycle was Arkansas in 1980.

Jimmy Carter won 65% in Arkansas in 1976. Ronald Reagan carried the state with 48% in 1980.

This had a lot to do with President Carter’s decision to place Cuban refugees in Arkansas and later rioting by these refugees. All that did not sit well with many Arkansans.     

Georgia was 59.8% state for George H.W. Bush in 1988. Bill Clinton won Georgia with 43.5% in 1992 in a three-way race. (Though, contrary to myth, Governor Clinton would have won that race even if Ross Perot had not run.)   

Many Southern states flipped from 60% for Richard Nixon in 1972 to wins for Jimmy Carter in 1976. But that involved a very weak Democratic ticket in 1972, and the unsual, for Democrats, Southern strength of Governor Carter.  

It is hard to see how Mr. Obama wins Texas. Or, should he prove viable in Texas, it will likely mean he has easily won the election elsewhere and Texas is not essential.

As things stand today, Senator Obama might do best to focus his attentions outside of Texas.

Texas is likely a dry well for Barack Obama.

June 18, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A History Of The Ohio Primary

Going back the Progressive Era origins of nominating primaries, the Ohio Presidential primary has a nearly century long history.

( Here are some basic facts and a brief history of Ohio. The population of Ohio is approximately 11.5 million. George Bush carried the state 51%-49% in 2004.)

Here is a history of some notable results from Ohio since the first primary in 1912.

The first Ohio primary featured something modern political observers can grasp—An ideological fight among Republicans.

Progressive challenger, former President Theodore Roosevelt, defeated incumbent President William Howard Taft, a more conservative figure, by a 55%-40% margin. President Taft was from Cincinnati. This outcome shows the bent of the Ohio Republican electorate at the time and offers a clue why the progressive reform of the primary was embraced early in Ohio.

On the other side, Ohio Governor Judson Harmon defeated Woodrow Wilson.

Judson had defeated Warren Harding in 1910 to become Governor.

(In November of 1912 in Ohio it was Wilson  41%, Roosevelt 27% and Taft 22%.)

In 1920, Ohioans had the chance to vote for locals in both primaries. The Republican winner was Senator Warren Harding who beat General Leonard Wood by an unimpressive 47%-41%. ( Maybe Ohio voters knew from experience that Senator Harding would be a bad President. He was in fact terrible President.)

Democrats in 1920 supported Ohio Governor James Cox with 98%.

However, despite the lack of unity in the primary, Harding beat Cox 59% -39% in November.

( The only time since 1920 that both major party nominees were from the same state was 1944 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt beat New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.)

Ohio Republicans in 1932 gave incumbent Herbert Hoover only 6%. The winner was Favorite Son Jacob Coxey.

Hoover was easily renominated despite winning only 33% of all primary votes in 1932.  It would not be until the 1970’s that primaries would begin consistently influential in the nominating process.

Coxey had been involved in politics since leading poor people’s protests in Washington in the 1890’s. He is interesting to read about.  

(Jacob Coxey)

President Taft’s son, Senator Robert Taft, was the 99% winner of the 1940 Ohio Republican primary. This was the beginning of a series of Taft efforts to reach the White House. Seen as a father of modern conservatism, and an author of the terrible Taft-Hartley Act, Taft was the choice of an “unpledged” slate of delegates that won the 1948 Republican primary. Taft also won the 1952 primary.

(Robert Taft)

For 1956, ’60 ’64 and ’68, Favorite Son candidates were the winners in both party primaries in Ohio. The only exception to this outcome was Richard Nixon’s nearly uncontested win in 1960.

The 1964 and ’68 Republican favorite son choice in Ohio was Governor James A. Rhodes. An outspoken so-called “law-and-order” politician, it was Governor Rhodes who ordered the troops in at the killing of anti-war protesters at Kent State in 1970.

The Democratic primary was sharply contested in 1972. Party establishment choice Hubert Humphrey was the 41%– 40% winner over liberal Senator George McGovern.

The 2008 Clinton–Obama fight seems an echo of the ’72 race to some degree.

While conservatives Taft and Rhodes had found favor with Ohio Republicans in the World War II and post-war era, a more moderate wing of the party prevailed in 1976. In ’76, incumbent President Gerald Ford beat Ronald Reagan 55%-45%. Not strong for an incumbent, but better than W.H Taft or Hoover had done in the Ohio primary.

The 1980 Democratic primary, contested in June when the race had already been decided, gave President Jimmy Carter a 51% 44% over Ted Kennedy. Another weak showing for an incumbent who would go on to lose.

Democrats in 1984 though went for the challenger to the party establishment. Senator Gary Hart defeated Walter Mondale42%-40%. The wonkish high-tech Hart’s win over a lunch-bucket union regular like Mondale in a state like Ohio showed the weakness of the Mondale campaign.

(Gary Hart)

In 1988, ’92 and ’96, the Ohio primary took place late in the process. Voters in each party primary voted for the eventual nominee of the party.

For 2000, Ohio moved it’s primary up to Super Tuesday March 7. ( Please click here for a history of Super Tuesday.)The George W. Bush/John McCain battle was still alive at that point. The more conservative Bush won a 58%-37% victory. This confirmed again the dominance of the right in Ohio Republican politics.

In March of 2004, John Edwards won 34% against 51% for John Kerry. This was one of Edwards’ strongest showings outside the South.

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

(Post card is of Youngstown in 1910’s. Please click here for a history of Youngstown. )

March 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Cincinnati, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

An Explanation And A History Of Presidential Nominating Caucuses—With Pictures!

With the Iowa Presidential nominating caucuses due up on January 3, 2008, here is an explanation and a history of the modern caucus process. The source is the Congressional Quarterly Press Guide To U.S. Elections Volume I.

Does the caucus system exclude the public to the benefit of ideologically extreme and unrepresentative individuals? Or does the caucus system rightly allow for well-informed party activists to have a strong say in who will win Presidential nominations and help build strong parties after the caucus is completed?

Read the following and see what you think.

From the book

In the current primary-dominated era of Presidential politics, which began three decades ago, caucuses have survived…The impact of caucuses decreased in the 1970’s as the number of primaries grew…Previously, a candidate sought to run well in primary states mainly to have a bargaining chip with which to deal with powerful leaders in the caucus states. Republicans Berry Goldwater ( photo above) in 1964 and Richard Nixon(photo below) in 1968 all built up solid majorities among caucus state delegates that carries them to their parties’ nomination. Hubert Humphrey did not compete in a single primary state in 1968. 

After 1968, candidates placed their principle emphasis on primaries…More recently, there has been an increase in the number of states employing caucuses…mostly in smaller states. The increase was slight among Democrats, but more extensive in 2004, when Republicans  saw little reason to spend money or time in an uncontested renomination… 

Compared with a primary, the caucus system is complicated. Instead of focusing on a single primary election ballot, the caucus system presents a multitiered  system that involves meetings scheduled over several weeks, even months. There is mass participation at the first level only, with meetings often lasting over several hours and attracting only the most enthusiastic and dedicated party members.

The operation of the caucus varies from state to state, and each party has its own set of rules. Most begin with precinct caucuses or some other type of local mass meeting open to all party voters. Participants, often publicly declaring their votes, elect delegates to the next stage of the process.

In smaller states, such as Delaware and Hawaii (photo above), delegates are elected directly to a state convention, where the national convention delegates are chosen. In larger states, such as Iowa, there is at least one more step, sometimes two. Delegates in Iowa are elected at the precinct caucuses to county conventions, which are followed by the state convention….

Participation, even at the first level of the caucus process, is much lower than in the primaries. Caucus participants usually are local party leaders and activists. many rank-and-file voters find the caucus complex, confusing or intimidating.

As a result, caucuses are usually considered tailor-made for a candidate with a cadre of passionately dedicated supporters. This was evident as long ago as 1972, when a surprisingly strong showing in the Iowa precinct caucuses helped propel Senator George McGovern (picture above) of South Dakota, an ardent foe of the Vietnam war, toward the Democratic nomination.

In a caucus state, the focus is on one-on-one campaigning. Time, not money, is usually the most valuable resource. Because organization and personal campaigning are so important, an early start is…crucial.

The lone exception is Iowa (Great Seal above). As the kick-off point…Iowa has recently become a more expensive stop…But the accent in Iowa…is still on grassroots organization.

Although the basic steps of the caucus process are the same for both parties, the rules that govern them are vastly different. Democratic rules have been revamped substantially since 1968, establishing national standards for grassroots participation. Republicans have remained largely unchanged, with the states given wide latitude in drawing up their delegate-selection plans.   

For both Republicans and democrats, the percentage of delegates elected from caucus states was on a sharp decline throughout the 1970’s. But the Democrats broke the downward trend and elected more delegates by the caucus process in 1980 than in 1976. Between 1980 and 1984, six states switched from a primary to a caucus system; none the other way.

A strong showing in the caucuses by Walter F. Mondale (bust above) in 1984 led many Democrats—and not only supporters of his rivals—to conclude that the caucuses are inherently unfair. The mainstream Democratic coalition of party activists, labor union members, and teachers dominated the caucuses on Mondale’s behalf.   

The major complaint about the caucus process is that it does not involve enough voters, and that the low turnouts are not so representative of voter sentiment as a higher-turnout primary.

Staunch defenders, however, believe a caucus has party-building attributes a primary cannot match. They note that several hours at a caucus can include voters in a way that quickly casting a primary ballot does not. Following caucus meetings, the state party comes away with lists of thousands of voters who can be tapped to volunteer time or money, or even run for local office. 

Here is a link to some more specific history of the Iowa caucus.

Here is a link to the State Historical Society of Iowa which has a new Iowa Caucus exhibit.

What do you think? A good way to go or not? I feel a mix of the primary and the caucus is as good as anything else. There is a place for party activists and a place for a broader electorate.

Though public funding would make it all a lot better.

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

December 28, 2007 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Elections, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Rudy Giuliani—A Throwback To The Cold War And To The Archie Bunker/George Jefferson Days Of Race Relations

A recent Newsweek profile of Rudy Giuliani begins its analysis in the right place.

The profile starts with Mr. Giuliani at an unruly rally of mostly white New York City police in 1992. Many of the officers were drunk and some were shouting racial slurs about then New York City Mayor David Dinkins. Some police officers jumped up and down on cars.

At issue was a demand for a new collective-bargaining agreement, opposition to the establishment of a civilian review board for police and a denial by Mayor Dinkins of a request to allow patrolmen to have 9mm guns.

Mr. Giuliani, who would be elected Mayor the next year against Mr. Dinkins, made a profanity-laced speech to the cops that was harshly critical of Mr. Dinkins. Mayor Dinkins later said that Mr. Giuliani was trying to get “white cops to riot.”  

As Mayor of New York, the Giuliani administration was known for aggressive tactics in policing black sections of New York. This led to, along with many other factors, lower rates of crime in these areas. It also led to incidents of police brutality and to much distrust of Mr. Giuliani among black New Yorkers.

Mr. Giluani’s platform for his Mayoral bid was based upon his his time as a high-ranking Justice Department official in the Reagan Administration and as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Mr. Giulani’s case for the Presidency is based in good degree on the over-hyped claim of claim of leadership after the September 11 attacks and the assertion that this experience makes Mr. Giuliani uniquely able to deal with terror threats. Mr. Giuliani also often talks about shifting people off welfare in New York and his crime fighting as Mayor.   

This law-and-order, tough-on-blacks, tough-on-welfare, national security strategy strikes me as a throwback to a George Wallace or Richard Nixon Southern Strategy campaign.

Mr. Giuliani can’t appeal to the Republican base as a religious conservative. And the Soviets are gone. But he can still take us back to Archie Bunker/George Jefferson days of racial argument and division under the shadow of a threat to our mortal safety. 

Mr. Giuliani is a retro-candidate. He still lives in the old neighborhood in the good old days of clear divisions between America and the Soviet Union before the New York Yankees finally integrated the team. Is it any surprise Mr. Giuliani rooted for the Yankees of Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin instead of the Brooklyn Dodgers of Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella?   

Mr. Giuliani shows again that Republicans and conservatives often seem to need an enemy to oppose and demonize instead of a goal of progress and justice to work together for and achieve.

December 4, 2007 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Texas Observer Endorsement Of John Tower & Snubbing Of Hubert Humphrey

  

In May of 1961, The Texas Observer, a liberal magazine of politics in Texas, editorialized that its readers should vote for conservative Republican John Tower (Above with LBJ) for the U.S. Senate in the 1961 Special Election. This race was to fill the seat left vacant by Lyndon Johnson winning the Vice Presidency in 1960.

The source for this post is the book  Fifty Years Of The Texas Observer.  

The Democratic incumbent was William Blakley. Mr. Blakley had been appointed at the beginning of 1961 to fill Vice President Johnson’s seat.

The Observer maintained Mr. Blakley was a Dixiecrat and that in any state outside the South he would be a Republican.  The Observer said that both liberals and conservatives had reasons to see Mr. Blakley defeated.

For liberals, forcing the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party would give the left a chance to run the Democratic Party. For conservatives and Republicans, it gave the Republican party a chance to become a real power in Texas.

And, with a strong Republican Party, Texas would finally become a two-party state consistent with modern Democracy.

(The Texas legislature is not yet a real two-party body in the sense of a having a majority and minority leader and a Speaker voted on by strict party line vote. In 2007, this is nearly beyond the conception of any thinking person)

Said the Observer—” It is to be granted, since politics is a game of risks, that when the Republicans have finally accomplished their formidable task, liberals may well be defeated for Governor and the state legislature. But they are being defeated anyway by pseudo-Democrats…..”

Mr. Tower beat Mr. Blakley by a margin of 50.4% to 49.6%. So it could be argued the Observer made an impact in this election.

While the liberal ascendancy has yet to arrive in Texas, I believe I would have supported the Observer in this debate had I been around in 1961. 

In 1968, The Observer wrote an editorial called “Humphrey Must Be Defeated to Save the Democratic Party.”

In this case, The Observer did not advocate voting for Republican Richard Nixon. Instead they suggested a write-in vote for defeated Democratic primary candidate Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota.  

While acknowledging that Vice President Hubert Humphrey was clearly a better candidate than either Mr. Nixon or third-party contender George Wallace, The Observer said  Mr. Humphrey’s support of the Vietnam War and his tacit acceptance of Mayor Richard Daley’s brutal police tactics against demonstraters at the Democratic convention in Chicago made him unacceptable.

From the editorial —

“The aim of those on the left and in the center who seek a Humphrey loss…is the restoration of the Democratic Party as the key progressive force in American life. We cannot rely on the Republicans….but right now we cannot rely on the Democrats for progress either; so committed to this disaster of a war is that party that social reform so desperately needed here at home is a fiscal and psychic impossibility…..a Humphrey defeat will restore the party to control of it’s better elements….”

Not being old enough to recall the Vietnam War and 1968, I can’t know what my feelings would have been. The question of voting for Mr. Tower was a tactical question of party politics I can more easily imagine. I think the Humphrey question was one of those things you had to be there for.

Mr. Humphrey carried Texas in 1968 with 41.1% of the vote. Mr. Nixon won 39.9% and Mr Wallace ran third at 19.0%.    

November 13, 2007 Posted by | Books, Political History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments